Passion is Overrated
Rick Latona wrote last month that you shouldn’t get into a business just because you own a good domain. He’s speaking mainly to domainers, but the essential point is the same one that you hear regularly across the Internet: don’t start a site unless you’re passionate about the topic. Until recently I argued that point as ardently as anyone, because life is just too short to spend it doing something that you don’t enjoy.
However, within the last month or so I’ve realized that I have made all my money doing something that I didn’t have any passion at all for and never had. That was a weird realization.
I mean, not only had I been preaching constantly that you needed to do something you were passionate about, but I was also fully enjoying my life. The two in combination obviously meant that I was passionate about my topics, right?
Turns out, that wasn’t the case at all. I mean I didn’t dislike the sites I was building, but they also didn’t cause me to jump out of bed in the morning ready to get to work. They were largely utilitarian and, as a result, fairly boring.
What I was passionate about, though, was the lifestyle that those sites gave me. I worked only for myself. I set my own schedule. I could go anywhere and do anything that I wanted to. I was no longer beholden to anyone else. That’s something terribly easy to be passionate about.
Would things have been even better if I could have had all that and been doing something I was passionate about? Without a doubt! (Plus, the sites themselves would have almost certainly been more successful to boot.) In a perfect world, we’d all get to work on things that we enjoyed so much we’d do them for free.
We don’t live in a perfect world, though, and sometimes we don’t get to pick our opportunities — we have to make the best of what we’ve got.
So don’t forgo a promising opportunity solely on the grounds that you’re not passionate about it. One of the greatest results of success is the tremendous array of new opportunities that comes along with it. If you can grind it out for as little as a year, new opportunities will begin to emerge. Many of those will be much more appealing to you, plus you’ll have the luxury of being able to pick and choose.
I think you’ll find very, very few people who became successful choosing only projects that they were passionate about. People who don’t have the discipline to grind it out or who won’t take advantage of opportunities simply because they don’t seem “interesting” are often those who complain all their life because they didn’t get the same “breaks” as other people got.
Yes, passion unquestionably makes things better and easier, but you can be passionate about the result of what you’re working on even if you aren’t passionate about the topic itself. You’re much better served getting to work today on something than waiting years for the “right opportunity” to come along.